Lake Malawi

Here are some cool things about Lake Malawi:

  1. It borders Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
  2. It has a collection of cichlids (fish) that are only found in Lake Malawi and nowhere else in the world.  The water is so clear you can snorkel and see to the bottom.
  3. It was coined the “Lake of Stars” by explorer David Livingstone (who also found what we now know as Victoria Falls).
  4. IMG_3061There are fishing villages all around the lake and the fishermen catch their fish at night and their boat lanterns are the only lights you will see on or around the lake.  The fish they catch are small, anchovy like fish.  When they bring in their catch in the morning, they lay the fish out on long tables and sun-dry them, then they take them into town to sell.

We went to Lake Malawi on the Malawi side.  Jamie was on a business trip that week to Blantyre, Malawi so I came up that Thursday night and we went to the lake the next day for the weekend.  If you are planning a trip to Lake Malawi there are some travel tips you need to know about:

  • In most parts of Africa the lodges are all inclusive, mainly because you really don’t have an option anywhere else.
    view from our private deck

    view from our private deck

    We stayed in a resort called Pumulani which was excellent.  It is a small lodge, which most are, and only had about 10 individual lodges, so not a lot of people.  The food was 5 stars and the chef was also one of the owners of the resort.  You get your own lodge that doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside was spectacular!  Floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows with views of the lake.  They also have loads of activities you can choose from and just book while you’re there.  The owner will come around to you at dinner and ask what you want to do the next day.  One thing about Pumulani is there are stairs and bridges everywhere because it is built into the side of a mountain.  If you have a hard time with stairs or anything like that, Pumulani is not going to be good for you.   Pumulani is a more romantic type setting, so I also wouldn’t recommend going to this one with kids.  There are other resorts around the bend closer to Monkey Bay that are right on beach level and some are family oriented.  Message me if you have questions in regards to that.

  • GO IN THE RAINY SEASON!  In the dry season the haze is so bad you can’t see any stars.  See my post about that here.

If you have the time, I would definitely try and see Lake Malawi.  It is a day’s trek to get there, but it is so beautiful and undisturbed.

  • Lake Malawi is very remote so take that into consideration when reading this bit.  There are 2 airports you can fly into from Joburg close to the lake – Blantyre and Lilongwe.  I don’t know if it is airport taxes or what, but the 2 hour flight from Joburg to Blantyre, for me, was close to $700 USD.  Once you get to Blantyre or Lilongwe you still have a bit of a journey ahead of you to get to the lake. IMG_3072 We took a car service for a 4 hour ride to and from the lake that was pretty expensive, as well, $275 USD per person per way.  There is also a “puddle jumper” type plane you can take from the main airports to Monkey Bay (by the lake), but it’s also a pretty penny.  Even flying into Monkey Bay would have been 45 minutes to an hour’s drive to our lodge.  I wouldn’t recommend renting a car and driving yourself (anywhere in Africa, actually).  Most roads are not on GPS or don’t have signs, there are no lights on the roads, there are wild animals crossing the street, tons of pedestrians, most roads you need a 4×4, and you don’t want to mess with law enforcement here.  Just hire a driver who is familiar with the area and you should be good.

    IMG_3049

    There are 2 baboons in the picture (to my left) sitting on the edge of the pool. See the zoomed in picture…:)

With all that said, we had a really relaxing time!  The hotel had a beach at the bottom, but was slightly disappointing, I will say.  There was murky water right at the beachfront, but if you took a boat out to snorkel the water was SO CLEAR you could see the bottom.  During the day when we weren’t doing an activity, we hung out in the infinity pool.   IMG_3046And a couple of mates came to hang with us… 🙂

The best thing about traveling in Africa is seeing the different cultures.  These fishing villages were so cool to see up close and how they operate.  The lodge had a boat called a dhow, that gave sunset cruises around the lake.  We saw the villages and children swimming in the water having a blast.  The boat captain said the children love to swim!  IMG_0751One thing that struck me as terrifying about that, though, was there was a pod of hippos about 30 meters from the kids and the kids were throwing rocks towards them!  No thank you.  Hippos scare the life right out of me (there will be a future post about that soon).

If you have the time, I would definitely try and see Lake Malawi.  It is a day’s trek to get there, but it is so beautiful and undisturbed.

  • the beach at the hotel
  • the dhow
  • on the dhow for the sunset cruise
  • fishing town nearby
  • Baobab tree